It was chilly when Evan, Stillman and I got down to the kiln at 5:40am. Adrian
were moving like a well-oiled machine whilst we brushed sleep out of our eyes. The temp was right up there at 2400 in the front chamber. Cone 12 was over in the first two stacks and bending in the back. A fine effort from the night crew had put us in a good position. The key had been small regular stokes. We took over and had the front chamber finished sharpish, moving on to the second chamber and opening the first to rapidly cool it. Firing this kiln is unusual as you fire each chamber in turn and cool it as soon as its done. Slow cooling can lead to sugary matte surfaces on the pots rather than glossy ones. The second chamber raced up and only took us a couple of hours to get cone 12 flat. As the sun rose we saw a large heron fly over the kiln shed, high above us; this is always a good omen--Michael Cardew watching our progress.
By 9am we were concentrating on the third chamber. Mark manned the ship, slowly transitioning our stoking pattern from feeding both chambers two and three to just three. Adding a little extra air by keeping the fire box doors slightly ajar helped the burn. By 12:30pm we were done, much to everyone's surprise. We had planned on going until midnight if necessary, and had cut enough wood to do so.
The relief of being done early had us all in high spirits and we enjoyed some cold beverages, a few loop-de-loops on the rope swing, and some marvelous coconut crust quiche that Carol had made. Mark sprayed down the rafters of the kiln to cool them off, we clammed her up and slid in the damper. A glorious collection of bees made their hive in the red clay earth near the kiln, seemingly unaware of all the activity around them. All in all the firing was a very smooth affair. We got the kiln hot, really hot, all over--in the front of the third chamber the cones were obliterated. The test rings we pulled out looked good too.
|Adrian checking the cones in the back of the first chamber.|
|Adrian and Dustin stoking the firebox.|
|Exactly where we want to be.|
|Before we started stoking this chamber.|
|Evan was down visiting me from Burlington, VT. I roped him into helping out with the firing.|
|Stoking the firebox of chamber 2.|
|View of the kiln from the side.|
|You can see the reflection on the bellies of the pots in there.|
|Test rings. Glazes looking good. Clay nicely cooked.|
|More test rings.|
|Stillman stoking into the middle of chamber 2.|
|This little guy was hanging out on the wood stack.|
|Mark, Adrian and I all incised quite a few lizards on our pots this time. There are so many lizards around the Hewitt pottery!|
|The kiln from afar.|
|Mark and Evan clamming up the main fireboxes. |
|Evan stoking chamber 3 firebox.|
|These look like ant excavations but are actually made by small bees.|
|The firing squad enjoying a beverage after the kiln was done. From top left: Sam Thompson, Me, Mark Hewitt, Dustin Fowler, Adrian King. Bottom row from left: John Svara, Evan Weiss and Stillman Browning-Howe.|
|Stoking the very back of the kiln; heavy reduction going on!|
|You can just see some fat bellies here.|
|During the cool down the color of the pots goes from bright orange to red.|
In the time it's taken me to post this, we have been through the grueling
week of waiting to crack her open and have now unloaded. The results were
excellent and many of our experimental glazes came out very nicely. Soon
I will post with pics of the pots!